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Fixture Type: Aviva Premiership
Match Date: Sat 04 Jan 2014
Kick Off: 15:00
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: Wayne Barnes
TV Match Official: Sean Davey
Assistant Referee: Roy Maybank
Assistant Referee: Andrew Pearce
James O’Connor scored all 22 points in a Man of the Match performance but it was George Skivington and his forward pack that DoR Brian Smith labelled as crucial in the victory.
The two teams at the bottom of the table were both in need of a win in the Saturday afternoon fixture after Irish could not convert their three tries against Gloucester into a much needed victory last weekend.
Worcester, winless so far in the Premiership looked ready to avenge the two point gap Irish won by last September.
From the off, pressure from Irish meant Worcester gave away a penalty inside their own half but three points went begging when James O'Connor couldn't convert.
Possession then went back and forth between the two sides, but it was Irish who were creating more and when Worcester infringed for a second time O'Connor's attempt went over for three well deserved points to put Irish 3-0 ahead.
For a period of play neither team were able to penetrate either defence with solid tackles slowing down the ball from both sides. Ball went over the top of the lineout with a Worcester throw which placed pressure on the Irish five metre line but good work from Mike Mayhew at the break down dissipated the pressure.
Irish were camped in their own half with the visitors enjoying a good period of possession which led to them levelling the scoreboard at 3-3 with Captain Chris Pennell booting the ball over.
Worcester’s Australian fly half Paul Warwick made the first clean break of the game down the middle of the field, when he spotted a gap in the London Irish defence. Irish illegally slowed the ball down and Chris Pennell kicked his second of the match to put his side in front for the first time in the match.
London Irish were unable to put many phases together but Worcester's ill discipline gave Irish good field position when Geraghty kicked to the left corner with a penalty. However, the driving maul at the Worcester five metre line, led to a knock on by Irish. It seemed Irish were getting into the right areas but were wasteful with poor execution.
A solid scrum from Irish deep in Worcester's 22 led to another penalty kick with O'Connor and his bright orange boots flying the ball between the posts.
The ball barely saw the full width of the pitch in the opening 40, meaning the wingers on both teams were working hard in defence and putting pressure on the kick chase.
In the second half, Worcester were penalised for not realeasing and O'Connor had an easy kick in front of the posts.
The Australian back kept the score board ticking over in Irish's favour going from 9-6 to 12-6. Goal kicking cost the Exiles last week but it was a different story this weekend.
The Exiles were still hunting for the first try of the game and when they won a lineout on the Worcester 22 they set up a driving maul and drove into the heart of the Worcester defence which bossed the Worcester forwards around and resulted in their number 8 being sent to the bin.
An accurate afternoon for O'Connor's boot put an even bigger gap between the side’s as he kicked his fifth to make it 15-6.
Inspirational play and a high work rate from George Skivington, who led from the front all afternoon, kept the pressure on the Warriors.
The first try came with 20 minutes to go and was made by the great timing of the pass from Shane Geraghty to O' Connor who went over in the right hand corner to rapturous applause from the home supporters. He added the extras to make it 22-6.
Worcester dominated the final 15 minutes and were looking dangerous. However the Irish defence was up to the challenge and great tackles from Eamonn Sheridan stifled the Warriors attacking play. The visitors did add three points to their tally with a third Pennell penalty.
Irish spent the remainder of the second half defending their line with some established pressure from the Warriors fighting for the losing bonus point.
However, the score remained the same and Irish started the New Year with a long awaited win.
Irish move above Newcastle into 10th and prepare this week for a return to Amlin Cup action against Lusitanos.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 3-0, 3-3, 3-6, 6-6, 9-6, 12-6, 15-6, 22-6, 22-9
Scorers: London Irish: Penalties: O’Connor (12, 39, 44, 48, 54); Tries: O’Connor (60); Conversions: O’Connor; Worcester Warriors: Penalties: Pennell (17, 32, 66)
15. James O’Connor; 14.Topsy Ojo (rep: Leo Halavatau, 74); 13.Fergus Mulchrone; 12. Eamonn Sheridan; 11. Sailosi Tagicakibau (rep: Alex Lewington, 75); 10. Shane Geraghty; 9. Tomás O’Leary; 1. John Yapp (rep: 7-12, 54-); 2. Mike Mayhew (rep: Jimmy Stevens, 64); 3. Leo Halavatau (rep: Jamie Hagan, 49); 4. George Skivington (Captain); 5. Nic Rouse; 6. Kieran Low; 7. Blair Cowan (rep: Declan Danaher, 65); 8. Ofisa Treviranus (rep: Jebb Sinclair, 61)
Replacements: 16. Jimmy Stevens; 17. Matt Parr; 18. Jamie Hagan; 19.Jebb Sinclair; 20. Declan Danaher; 21. Alex Lewington; 22. Ian Humphreys; 23. Ed Hoadley
Warriors: 15. Chris Pennell (Captain); 14. James Stephenson; 13. Alex Grove; 12. Ravai Fatiaki (rep: Josh Matavesi, 56); 11. Josh Drauniniu; 10. Paul Warwick (rep: Ignacio Mieres, 62) ; 9. Jeremy Su'a (rep: Jonny Arr, 50); 1. Ofa Fainga'anuku( rep: George Porter, 69); 2. Chris Brooker (rep: Ed Shervington, 62); 3. Rob O'Donnell (rep: John Andress, 62); 4. James Percival; 5. Mariano Galarza; 6. Richard de Carpentier; 7. Sam Betty; 8 Leonardo Senatore (rep: Chris Jones, 65)
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 George Porter, 18 John Andress, 19 Chris Jones, 20 Cam Goodhue, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Josh Matavesi
Referee: Wayne Barnes